Wednesday, June 27, 2012

With Readership Spiking, We List Rail Project’s 4 Goals, Plus: Civil Beat Reports Candidates’ Views

“There’s no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” ~ Brendan Behan

That adage has its detractors, and we also had our doubts after Monday’s City Council meeting that put Yes2Rail in the spotlight at least for now.

But the blog’s readership is up, and that means new visitors can be directed to material that can help educate them about the Honolulu rail project.

First-time visitors might well bookmark the project’s website –  There’s more material there than you can read in a month of leisure-time browsing, but the site’s search engine is helpful in narrowing your quest.
We’d suggest getting acquainted with key sections of the project’s Final Environmental Impact Statement, which is easily downloadable as a PDF. There’s no better place to start than the project’s four principal goals, which are discussed in detail in Chapter 1, beginning in paragraph 1.8. Table 1-4 summarizes them (click on the image at right to improve readability).
Although these goals were written years ago, they accurately anticipated the long-term threat to citizens’ ability to travel through Honolulu’s long and narrow urban corridor. We learned just last month that Honolulu has the worst traffic in the country according to a study published by INRIX, Inc.

Restoring our mobility is the first goal in the list. We’ve lost the ability to pick up and go in this town without being delayed by ever-increasing congestion. 

Goal two – improving corridor travel reliability – ties in nicely with the mobility goal. It’s virtually impossible these days to accurately predict your time of arrival when you begin your commute, say, from Kapolei to town. In addition to the normal traffic that adds big chunks of time to the trip, accidents and break-downs happen all the time to impede traffic flow.

We encourage you to spend time with the goals and think through how Honolulu’s elevated rail project is better able to achieve them than any other form of mass transit that would put its vehicles – buses and/or light rail – at street level in the mix of vehicle congestion.

You might also want to acquaint yourself with some of the many studies that have been published on the very nature of traffic congestion itself.  Yes2Rail linked to two of them in our April 6 post under the headline, Land use Commission Testimony Offers Insight on Why traffic Congestion Simply Won’t Go Away…

With Oahu’s population expected to grow another 150,000 to 200,000 souls by 2030, congestion is naturally going to increase, and even building more highway lanes (as if Oahu had the space) wouldn’t improve the traffic flow.

Phenomena like “generated traffic” and “induced travel” are well understood by researchers, and their findings in a nutshell are that you can’t build your way out of congestion and “solve” it. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that Honolulu rail will carry passengers above ever-increasing congestion and enable them to avoid wasting time and money (since “time is money”) in the nation’s worst traffic.

Civil Beat Today
Without commentary, we direct your attention to today’s coverage of the mayoral campaign by online Civil Beat, the subscription news service that’s free to read by occasional visitors.

All three mayoral candidates answered Civil Beat’s questionnaire, and the first question is relevant to what we discuss here at Yes2Rail: “If elected, what will you do to mitigate the nation’s worst traffic congestion in the near term – within your four-year term?”

While Yes2Rail isn’t a political blog and doesn't advocate for or against candidates, the mayoral race can’t reasonably be segregated from the rail discussion, and you’re encouraged to read Civil Beat’s coverage of the questionnaire’s responses today – all the while keeping rail’s four goals in mind.

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